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Watch: Gov. Dunleavy holds COVID-19 update to address hospitalization capacity and the surge of COVID-19 cases

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Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:08 PM AKDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:57 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Gov. Mike Dunleavy held a COVID-19 update Thursday to talk about two major subjects in the state: hospitalization capacity and the surge of COVID-19 cases.

“Hospitalizations are reaching critical levels of capacity and I have directed my administration to immediately address those needs,” said Dunleavy in a statement. “To stop the surge of COVID-19 and to ensure the safety of our friends and families, I’m asking the entire state to work together to protect Alaska and Alaskans.”

Thursday the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services reported 730 new COVID-19 cases. The day before DHSS reported 620 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths. The rise in COVID-19 cases has to lead the current statewide alert level – based on the reported number of cases per 100,000 people over the past 7 days – to be high at 456.7.

“What we’re finding is that it’s making it difficult for the hospitals to serve everybody,” Dunleavy said during the update. “In a timely manner or in the manner that you had once thought the service would be available at a hospital.”

Related: 730 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths reported Thursday

Dunleavy on Thursday called on DHSS, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, and the Department of Law to take action and work with the state’s hospital to address capacity constraints.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, some efforts include:

  • Having DCCED expedite the process for licensed healthcare providers to work in licensed facilities. At the same time, DHSS is implementing an expedited background check process and waiver for licensed providers who are seeking to work in certain licensed facilities in Alaska, such as hospitals.
  • Having DHSS and DCCED assess General Services Administration staffing contracts to temporarily support hospitals.
  • Having DHSS obtain medical supplies to support hospitals that are unable to purchase items due to supply chain constraints. The state can bulk purchase and share the resources with the hospitals as well as support the movement of supplies and medications around the state as needed.

The above actions are expected, according to the governor’s press release, to “aid in decreasing the time it takes to get new health care employees working in our communities,” to, “aid in increasing staffing levels in our hospitals to care for all patients,” and to “allow alternative care sites, urgent care sites and other areas of healthcare delivery to be more efficiently used to relieve pressure on the hospitals while still providing care.”

Watch below the full COVID-19 update:

Dunleavy also took time to call on Alaskans to have a conversation with their doctor about the vaccine.

“I strongly urge you to talk to your physician,” Dunleavy said. “Talk to a trusted healthcare provider that you know, or your friend or family member know, and have a conversation with them.”

Dunleavy went on to say that health officials are finding that “a vast majority” of people going to the hospital don’t have a vaccine.

“So you can have the vaccine, you can still get infected, but what we’re finding is the vaccine helps dramatically in terms of symptoms and how ill you’re getting,” Dunleavy went on to say. “And as I just mentioned you see less people going to the hospital with the vaccine.”

As of Thursday, the state’s vaccine monitoring dashboard shows 60.3% of all Alaskans age 12 and older have gotten at least an initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and that 54.1% are fully vaccinated.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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